bil 3arabi: 6 poems by Sara Saleh

By | 5 December 2019

Straw Widow
for Hebron

We a land without a people. We skeletal
olive trees, oranges with sunken
cheeks, we mundane and metal
netting prostrating the streets, we ancestral
deeds and keys welded shut, we car honks when
they pass their tests, for the brides, for
the births, for the funerals. They set 2am
fires for us to lick, and drive away with
blindfolded fathers.

They cannot be fathers anyway.

We biblical, we descendants
of Galil, we mouth full of half-languages
and sumac gaps, we sacrament with
more holy than any of us ever wanted.
We nothing but other sides, and truth finds
another way to sterilise us. We wait for hours
in our underwear. They make bets
on who will be the difficult ones.

This is the sidewalk where they
shot her, insides clapped out like hot
coals and our confessions, coaxing us to
watch, to film their Sunday
entertainment, before
we are archived again.

The official story is a shiv crowned
her palm like rosary beads, there will be
no burial rites, our daughters and sons
are often the shape of beasts, we
turpentine and turbulent grief.

The world hails it peace plan.

Today that 21-year-old conscript
brings a different God to each obscenity.
There is a God for obscenities
like this. The occupiers decide
not to convict, they say they are pleased,
“Soldier was doing his job. Your videos
show this, too.”

W-Allahi*, the neighbours swear they
heard her cry, “I am growing
a new Palestinian body.”

Let’s drag her body through five
decades of colonial scaffolding, they need us
to remember, we spectacle, we quiet
the dead and marinate
the Street of Martyrs
with its namesake. This is how
to keep it ours. What are we
but a eulogy for our children.

I, chequered black and white cloth
cradling my eyelids, they spearlike
spines, cock guns when
they see me, they hiss
“whore” and spit, we fingers
pulled off and split. On garbage
day, their trash and piss
staccato over us. Mama says,
“This is the only way they
want to know Arabs.”

There is no good reason
to end apartheid, we won’t
let them in our buses, our souks, our
schools, our factories, our
theatres, our sermons.

Who else built everything in this country.

Baba is a pulpit of rage, his legs
pretzeled tight from
the state’s raping, soon we will
beat them senseless, eat at their rind.

We loss and loss.

We metastasising over this city like an infection.

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